Statistics show that two out of three people who have diabetes also seem to have hypertension (high blood pressure). This according to the American Diabetes Association.
The reason why having a combination of diabetes and hypertension is so bad is that the high blood pressure makes your heart work harder to pump more blood in the body. But when the heart is forced to work harder, the risk of any diabetes-related complications grows.
That’s why those with diabetes have to work on maintaining their blood pressure levels below 130/80 mmHg. But there are simple ways you can keep your diet in check and still eat in a high-quality manner.
The key to managing your condition is to limit your sugar intake, eat less salt, and count your carbohydrates.
Why It’s a Bad Combo
High quantities of sodium are bad news for those with high blood pressure. The explanation is that it attracts water and an excess of it causes the blood volume to grow. Which, in turn, heightens your circulatory system’s pressure.
But not to worry, following a low-sodium diet can lower your hypertension in a mere 14-day period. If you have high blood pressure, your recommended sodium intake is not over 1,500 milligrams daily. But that’s as little as one teaspoon. Or, truthfully, less than a teaspoon.
1. Zest it Up!
What you can do is ‘transform’ your taste buds and teach them to reach out for rosemary, zest from citrus fruits, oregano, garlic, cumin, and jalapeno peppers, instead of the salt shaker.
Also, it’s more helpful if you decide to cook your meals at home, instead of munching down on a box or bag of something. Even restaurants should not be a daily habit, since all of these options are guaranteed to give you more than just 1,500 milligrams of sodium.
This according to the author of Blood Pressure Down, Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., RD.
2. Think of Your Plate As a Clock
You heard us. If you want to have a balanced diet, the best thing you can do is imagine your plate is a clock. Half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables. About a quarter should be lean protein, such as beans, baked fish, and chicken.
And the last quarter should be reserved for (preferably whole) grains, such as brown rice. Of course, you’ll still need to count your carbs and watch your sodium. The director of The Diabetes Center at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Amber L. Taylor, MD, had this to say.
Indeed, these portions would be ideal, since they also fit the diabetic dietary guidelines from the University of Maryland Medical Center – between 44 and 65 % are from carbs, between 12 and 20 % are from protein, and between 25 and 35 % are from fat.
3. To Coffee or Not to Coffee?
Well, if you already have high blood sugar, and caffeine is known to increase it even more…simply do the math. However, that doesn’t mean you must give up coffee forever, simply limiting it to no more than 200 milligrams (about two cups) daily.
This was the advice of a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Torey Jones Armul, RD.
Here’s some further useful advice: you’ll always do better by skipping the espresso and choosing coffee with a paper filter. The reason for this is that the paper soaks up cafestol, an oily compound contained in coffee beans.
This compound can raise your cholesterol levels.
Another option is switching to decaf, as there have been researches that say it may decrease blood sugar.
4. Seeds and Grains are Your Friends
Amber L. Taylor also suggests including more grains and seeds in your meals, since “the grainier, the better”.
Doing so will steady your blood sugar and keep you feeling fuller for longer. This is because whole grains are packed with all sorts of minerals and vitamins.
Plus they are also composed of fiber. So do yourself a favor by taking 3 to 5-grain servings, with at least half of those servings being whole grains.
Instead of white rice or pasta, you’d do well to eat barley, amaranth, quinoa, or bulgur. Amber L. Taylor also says that preparation is now even easier since most whole grains are now sold precooked or pre-soaked.
5. Do the Monkey
And before you get excited or confused, we mean by eating more bananas. They are a great source of potassium, along with raw carrots, potatoes, bran flakes, broccoli, nuts, lentils, cantaloupe, and whole wheat bread.
The science behind it is that the potassium in all of these reduces the sodium’s effect, thus aiding you in controlling your blood pressure. This is what the nutrition director at Marina Del Rey Hospital in Marina Del Rey, CA, Lauren Elkins, RD, had to say on the matter.
But take heed: if you happen to also have issues with your kidneys, then an overdose of potassium can actually worsen the situation. The best thing is to ask your doctor whether you should limit your potassium intake or not.
6. Socializing’s Fine, But it Doesn’t Mean Over-drinking
Getting together with family members or friends is always a joyous occasion. But, you can have just as much fun with them without having to hit hard on the alcohol. You don’t have to entirely skip it, (though it is the preferable option) but at the very least try to limit how much you drink.
Common alcoholic beverages such as cocktails, wine, and beer all contain sugar. So, naturally, the more you drink, the more your blood sugar levels rise. This also goes for your blood pressure and triglycerides.
Furthermore, alcohol has a tendency to make you crave more food due to its appetite-stimulating abilities. So the best answer is moderation. For men two drinks a day is more than enough, for women – one. So goes the advice of Lauren Elkins.
7. Get Literate in Fats
Always give priority to healthy fats. No question there. Some good examples are avocados, flaxseed, olive oil, and nuts.
On the other hand, saturated fats, like cheese, skin-on poultry, and butter should make as little as 10% of your diet. You’d also be wise to stay as far away as possible from trans fats – those found in baked and fried foods.
Both saturated fats and trans fats are linked to a heightened bad LDL cholesterol, which can also lead to heart problems and cardiovascular disease.
8. Kiddie Portions For Adults?
We’re only human. Sometimes the urge to treat ourselves to a little guilty pleasure is not that dangerous. But one should still be cautious. If you’ve already opted for something overly greasy or sweet, then portion control is a must. There are many ways you can do that.
One way is to order a kids’ meal. Don’t laugh since it does the trick cause of the smaller portion. Another thing is to split a meal with someone else or, instead of fries, have your side dish be a healthy green salad.
9. Make Sure to Track Your Progress
You can do this by keeping a food diary or using one of the many smartphone apps. Another way to keep track of what you eat is by regularly checking in with a close one, such as a friend or a relative.
What Is The DASH Diet?
It is an acronym that stands for ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’. The main point is to lower your blood pressure using a well-balanced diet plan that is rich in fiber and nutrients. It also a low sugar diet, as is logical in this situation.
The added sugar is limited to less than five on a weekly basis. This includes sweets, nuts, and legumes. It is crucial to divide your food evenly throughout your whole day, as doing so will regulate your blood sugar levels.
We are sure we don’t need to tell you that staying fit and sustaining a healthy body will aid your body in using insulin in a more effective manner. Not to mention it will also decrease your blood pressure.
While we already mentioned the right percentages of everything you should consume and what you should limit (sodium!) we should also mention that your fiber intake should be a minimum of 30g per day.
Fiber has many benefits, including giving you a sense of satiety (which may promote weight-loss!) as well as regulating your production of insulin and glucose. It also helps to slow digestion. Good sources of fiber include legumes, fruits and veggies, and whole grains.
The Dash diet plan depends on each individual’s caloric needs and thus comes in many forms.
For example, if you’re following a 2000-calorie daily diet plan, then according to DASH it should be from 6 to 8 servings of whole grains, 4 to 5 servings of fruits and veggies (each), 3 servings of dairy and fats (each) and about 6 ounces of lean protein.
As a last piece of advice, make sure to consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet plan.